Now that December has arrived and the pre Christmas chaos begins, I will be taking a break from my usual blog post series 'This Much I Know' and 'Something Pinteresting' as something needs to give.
I will bring them back in the New Year, perhaps with some other new inspirations.
Meanwhile, I have decided to take up an advent illustration challenge.
This time last year I saw many illustrators take up the challenge of creating an illustration a day for a countdown to Christmas. It looked lots of fun, so I vowed to myself to create some time this year to have a go myself.
So here are Days 1 & 2. I shared these on instagram and facebook, but will do regular round ups on here so there's plenty of chances to see them and get in the festive spirit...
It's good to see lots of other illustrators are also having a go at this challenge this year and I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with each day up until Christmas. If you want to see what all the fuss is about or to join in the fun and festivities, here are some useful hashtags:
This week's 'This Much I Know' shares the main things I have learnt about websites.
When I started my little business, this was an area of complete mystery that I threw myself at as I believed that if my strategy was to mainly market my business online, it was vital that I knew how to build and manage my very own home on the web...
This Much I Know About Websites...
Websites cost a lot. Whether it's lots of your money or lots of your time if you opt to D.I.Y - websites take lots of it. Know this, accept this and factor this into your plans.
It's very important to have your own home on the internet which is independent of social media sites. That is a very sensible thing to do. Social media sites are unreliable - all it takes is for one to change their rules and that could truly scupper your business if you have relied too heavily on them and not built your marketing efforts on your own foundations (i.e. your own website or blog).
Setting up a website is not really as scary as it may seem at first. It can be done very simply using a blogging site or an easy to learn and use website host site to take the pain away. Here's a little list of some great sites to help you: blogger, wordpress,tumblr, weebly, create, bigcartel, shopify. The list goes on and on - I've just jotted down some of the popular ones I'm familiar with.
Your website is your shop window - use it to say what you want the world to know. Keep it up to date and relevant and use it to help gather opt in subscribers to an email list. It's important to gather your own customer database to ensure you have a way of reaching your customer base that is not reliant on anyone else. I use mailchimp for my email list and can completely recommend them as you are able to download your list at anytime. Good website host sites (such as the ones I listed in point 3 above) will give you lots of support and information to help you get the most out of your website and help you navigate the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to gain traffic to your site.
If you want to hire someone to set up your website for you -it's important to take your time to find the right person. Ask around, especially from people you know with websites you admire. It's important to find someone you can trust, who shares your vision for your site and that you feel you can work with in the long term. Working with the right person will make the whole process a pleasure rather than a pain!
I hope you found this weeks 5 things I've learnt helpful.
Next week I am hoping to share a few things I know about Print On Demand sites.
With 'Black Friday' looming at the end of this week, thoughts are turning to Christmas shopping. I've put together a selection from my current online collections to help you gather some ideas for gifts for her.
At the top is my 'Live in the garden, sleep in the house' print - ideal for a garden lover...
This week's this much I know is all about selling online.
I first dipped my toe into the world of selling my makes online at the end of 2010 when I launched my Folksy shop and website, followed later the following year with an Etsy shop. It has taken a while to get to grips with it all. To be completely honest it's been a steep learning curve and one which I am still on, discovering something new everyday.
Here are five of the main things I have learnt along the way, I hope they may help others on the same online selling journey...
This Much I Know About Selling Online....
It all starts with a great, unique, lovely, desirable product - if you focus on getting that bit right you are more than half way there
Good photography is essential. It really is make or break. The photos need to make up for the fact the customer can not pick the item up and get a good look at it, feel it, form an attachment to it. Good clear photos, in a variety of angles, some with and without a little styling, to help put the product in context, will always increase your chances.
Get the price right - The price needs to be fair to the customer and you. If it's too cheap, not only will you ultimately lose out, you may turn customers off as they will be worried about the quality. If it's too expensive you may turn people off, or disappoint and risk not getting return custom. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on pricing, here's a link to help: http://artworkbyangie.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/this-much-i-know-about-pricing.html
Keep your online shops well stocked and looking good. If you can't keep it stocked, put it in holiday mode with a clear message in the header. In that message give a clear indication as to why you have no stock (you may have a craft fair or a wholesale order) and when you'll next have stock online or where else they can find you online. This all seems very simple and obvious, but it's surprising how many shops get left to tumble weed. You never know who is looking at your shop, you could miss a golden opportunity!
I make no secret of it, I've always loved pretty stationery as I grew up in an age when writing to pen friends was a pleasure beyond measure! No letter was complete without matching paper, envelope and little stickers!...even the pen you wrote with had to match - such happy, happy times!
Thankfully, we can all still indulge in this as the choice of stunning stationery on the market today is amazing...and it is very satisfying to see, especially in this digital age, that the art of paper correspondence is very much alive and thriving!
Here are a few of my favourite pics pulled from my pinterest board called 'Stationery Love'...
From the top and the pic above - we have a botanical collection from Roger La Borde.
This week's 'This Much I Know' is all about branding. Each week, with these knowledge sharing posts I stress that I am no expert and that these are things I have learnt over the five years I have been running my business. However, branding is a subject that I have a good deal of experience in as I'm a Graphic Design graduate with over 12 years experience of working in the advertising industry working with brands at every scale from one man bands to multi-nationals.
Since I went freelance, I have developed branding for MANY small creative businesses and artists. The one thing that has struck me most over that time is the varying understanding people have about what a brand is. Which is why, today, rather than share 5 things I have learnt in the 5 years since I began my business, I'll share 5 key things I know about branding that may help others gain a clearer idea of exactly what it is and how to make it work hard for them and their business.
This Much I Know About Branding...
Branding is not just a logo. It is an ethos, a vision, a mission and a set of values. It is basically the way you communicate all of that with your desired target market. Put simply, it is the way you tell the world about what it is you do and want to achieve. The logo is a part of that communication - an icon to embody it all. Branding is more than that though, it's the language you use, the images you choose to represent you, where you choose to be seen, how you package your products, how you handle an order or deal with a complaint etc...With artists, the brand is generally you!
The key to it all is to simply understand what you makes you unique. What are your values? your vision? what are you aiming for? where do you want to be in the short and long term. How would other's describe you? How should it all look? If you were a colour what would you be? why? When you establish the answers to these sorts of questions you'll have the language for your brand.
Have fun finding out the answers to these questions. Create mood boards, collect imagery, make it visual and enjoy the whole process of finding out. It will be time very well spent as without knowing those answers you will struggle to create a cohesive brand or brief a designer to develop branding that works for you.
Consistency is vital as it makes it easy for others to understand your brand and identify with you. When you're consistent it makes it very quick for people to buy into your brand, and once they have bought into you, it is very reassuring to see consistent branding as people feel they know you. It's fine to dramatically change your branding if you need to re-position yourself to attract a new or different market...but be aware that you could lose loyal customers that don't share your new vision and no longer identify with you.
Be clear on where you want to be in 3-5 years with your business and ensure that vision is reflected in your branding. Investing in well branded materials can be costly over time. Chopping and changing your branding is not only confusing and off putting for customers it can leave you sitting on wasted stocks of business cards, stickers, packaging etc. which is no good for the bottom line of your business either. Basically, it all stems from clearly understanding what your brand is about.
I hope you found this week's 5 tips helpful. Next week I plan to share some things I've learnt about selling online.
Today's post is a quick round up of my current collection of Christmas Cards.
This year I am mainly offering three main multipacks.
The first of those is pictured above and is part of my 'Tis The Season' range.
It features six merry and bright designs based on the titles of popular Christmas songs. All created with a cheery, playfulness in my winter wonderland!....
The second multipack is a sweet collection featuring festive puddings and desserts for those who love to indulge in all the treats of the season, or simply enjoy baking such delights for their loved ones...
The third pack is a pack of six from my original 'Tis The Season' range which is more pattern focused.
The image below is a store shot from last year from a local stockist. It's a very handy image as it nicely shows most of the designs in all of these packs in one place!...
You can find all the cards featured on this post listed in my online shops here: